Judge Lady Smith’s appeal to child abuse victims and witnesses
appointed to lead the Scottish government’s child abuse inquiry has
urged victims and witnesses to come forward.
Lady Smith said she was determined to find out “what happened, where, how and why”.
The inquiry will examine historical allegations of child abuse in Scotland.
It is expected to last four years, and will look at the extent of abuse of children in care and identify any systemic failures.
Lady Smith replaced Susan O’Brien QC as chairwoman of the inquiry after she quit the post in July citing government interference.
A second member of the three-person panel, Prof Michael Lamb, also resigned over similar concerns.
Smith said: “I come to this role with 15 years of experience as a judge
of the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary. I am personally
committed to it and will discharge my duties independently, thoroughly
and to the best of my ability.
“This independent inquiry was
established in October 2015 for purposes which include the need to raise
public awareness of the fact of children in residential care having
been abused, to acknowledge and record the suffering of those children,
to carry out investigations and to make recommendations.
investigate how children were failed, what went so badly wrong, identify
what makes residential care safe for a child and make recommendations
about what we consider is required to ensure that now, and in the
future, the welfare of children is truly paramount and children are
properly protected. My fellow panel member, Glenn Houston, and I are
committed to delivering a thorough and conscientious response to its
Lady Smith said restriction orders to protect the anonymity of witnesses and victims had been issued “where appropriate”.
added that the wide-ranging inquiry would look at the abuse of children
in residential care in Scotland “over a period from within the living
memory of anyone who suffered such abuse up to the end of 2014”.
judge said: “The inquiry will thus reach far back in time and has
already gathered numerous accounts of abuse that happened many years
ago. That work continues. It does so in private sessions which are
taking place throughout the UK.
“We are determined to find out
what happened, where, how and why, what was the conduct and what were
the failings of institutions and others entrusted with the care and
protection of children.
“I would encourage anyone who is able to
provide information about such abuse or about the places where it
occurred or about those responsible for them, whether as victim, witness
or otherwise, to come forward. Talk to us. We want to hear from you.”
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